22 Students Named Fairfax County Peace Awards Recipients
Students from 22 Fairfax County public schools have been named recipients of the 2019 Student Peace Awards of Fairfax County, designed to recognize young people who work as peacemakers. Recipients will be recognized at a reception on March 10 at the Sherwood Community Center in Fairfax.
The 2019 recipients are:
Annandale High School: Kora Corker wrote and published a childen’s book that explores the concepts of immigration and discrimination through the eyes of elementary school children. She has read the book to young children at school and a library, and led discussions asking the children to relate the book to their own experiences and views.
Cedar Lane School: Nick Price helps promote peace by being a peer example and upstander, someone who stands up for students who may need help. He speaks out against bullying behavior and calmly defuses arguments.
Centreville High School: Deepika Joshi, founder and president of her school’s chapter of Students Together Assisting Refugees (STAR), designed to help refugees overcome the hurdles that often leae them in emotional, mental, and physical distress.
Chantilly High School: Annie Wang writes rap songs on recognizing the contributions of teachers, encouraging a positive body image, and overcoming depression and negativity while attaining success. She is a member of the FCPS Student Advisory Council and performed an original rap on female empowerment at the Virginia Girls State Conference.
Edison High School: Reem Ali is a founder of Project Humanity, supporting charities that provide international humanitarian relief via book drives; fundraising; and clothing, food, and hygiene supply drives for Syrian refugees.
Fairfax High School: Lara Demir is a founder of a local chapter of Fairfax Minds Matter, a mental health organization that seeks to reduce the stigma of mental illness, increase help-seeking and coping skills, and promote positivity and social connectedness for teens. She has volunteered in a community center in Turkey to support displaced Syrian families.
Hayfield Secondary School: Delina Kiflom and a friend founded the Ethiopian-Eritrean Society at their school, designed to find ways to help the less fortunate in those countries and bridging the gap between the younger generations of the two cultures. She also founded the First Generation American Association to mitigate the difficulties first generation students and their families face with language, cultural, and societal barriers in the U.S.
Herndon High School: Lydia Goff, president of her school’s Best Buddies chapter, organizes monthly social events, one-to-one get-togethers, and fundraisers for the 90 students in the program. She is also a leader in the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign to end the use of the demeaning ‘r’ word.
Langley High School: Sumaiya Haque organized a team to conduct a Snapshot Project in Bangladesh, which provides cameras to 10-to-18-year-olds who have had traumatic experiences, allowing them to tell their stories through visual images while building self-confidence. Photos can be sold with proceeds returning to the photographers’ communities for basic needs.
Lee High School: Oscar Manuel Lopez Hernandez, who was surrounded by violence in his homeland of Honduras, embraces community service to help improve his surroundings and restore hope. As a Student Government Association member, he works to build consensus between members, students, and staff; manages discussions on divisive issues to resolve conflicts; and helps educate students about the importance of inclusion and bridging gaps.
Madison High School: Hannan Mumtaz founded the club Madison Minds Matter to help teens struggling with mental health problems, providing an outlet for students to express themselves. The group has hosted talks by professionals, had discussions about coping strategies, and created advocacy videos for the school’s morning news program.
Marshall High School: Luka Gabitsinashvili, with other officers of the Student Government Association, organized a peaceful student walkout after the Parkland shootings to raise concern for school safety and to honor the memory of the victims. He has also helped organize international nights to celebrate diversity and advocated for human rights with Amnesty International.
McLean High School: Neha Rana is the chief executive officer for the Speak Up initiative that offers free public speaking education to children from low-income families. She is also the McLean representative to the Fairfax County Student Human Rights Commission and the head of the Fairfax-Arlington Chapter of Rise to Run, which encourages young girls to participate in politics and consider running for political office.
Mount Vernon High School: Burhan Ahmed is a leader of Stony Brook Junior Volunteers, supporting children from low-income families in that neighborhood. For three years, he has run the athletics program and participated in clean-ups, food drives, and toy collections while showing children the joy of volunteering.
Mountain View High School: Romina Soleimani started her peace work in her home country of Iran, where she worked with Youth Spiritual Empowerment, a global Baha’i-inspired program. When forced to leave Iran because of her beliefs, she continued her work in Turkey before moving to the U.S. She now is a leader in the program in the U.S. and hopes to continue her work in college.
Quander Road School: Lauren Haymes is president of Blossoming Beauties, a student group that engages in team-building activities and school and community projects. She has helped the group conduct charity drives and fundraisers, including collecting food for hurricane victims and those in need locally. She also serves as a champion for her peers.
South Lakes High School: Sophia Liao founded the Young Democrats Club, serves on the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council, and a member of her school’s Student Council. She organized a trip for students to go to China to volunteer at a panda center and organized her school’s participation in National Walkout Day in response to the school shooting in Parkland.
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology: Angie Sohn is the president of the school’s Humanitarian Aid to North Korea club and has used presentations, documentaries, and encouraged dialogue to educate her peers about North Korean refugees. The club sends school supplies and letters of encouragement to school-aged refugees. Sohn also tutors culturally diverse elementary students, many from disadvantaged backgrounds.
West Potomac High School: Diana Argueta is a founding member and current president of the Hispanic Leadership Club, helping to spread awareness of Hispanic cultures, empower Hispanic students to become school and community leaders, and bring diverse communities together. She recruited volunteers to tutor local elementary students and to read to and mentor children new to the U.S.
West Springfield High School: Laura Kirk is a co-founder of the DMV chapter of Students Demand Action, an organization focused on eliminating gun violence. She helps connect students with legislators and recruits and trains volunteers to learn to lobby. She also organizes town halls, school walkouts, marches, and vigils to reduce gun violence. As co-president of the Young Democrats, she and her cohort with the Young Conservatives brought both groups together during January’s government shutdown to serve dinner to furloughed government employees and their families.
Westfield High School: Makee Neves organized the Indigenous Student Union Club for students interested in sharing their heritage or learning more about Native American history and culture. To honor Native American Heritage Month, he presented profiles of Native Americans on the school’s daily news and led club members in creating a display for Westfield Culture Night.
Woodson High School: Xuan Huynh is a participating artists in the Youth Art Re-Imagining Community Program that uses art (such as poetry, photography, and banners) to address social and racial inequities. The art serves as a catalyst for discussions in regional centers and mosques in underserved communities. Huynh also served as a U.S. student ambassador in the cross-cultural Tech Girls summer program which served girls from the Middle East and North Africa, exposing them to science, technology, computers, and math.
For more information, contact the Fairfax County Public Schools Office of Communication and Community Relations at 571-423-1200.